Victims call for Magee press conference


VICTIMS OF clerical child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne last night challenged Bishop John Magee to prove the sincerity of his apology by holding a press conference after the final chapter of the Cloyne report is published.

Three women, who all testified at the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne, said they were not impressed with Bishop Magee’s expression of remorse in a statement issued yesterday and in an interview with RTÉ television.

“To the victims I say I am truly horrified by the abuse they suffered – it is very clear to me when I read the complete report and if through my not fully implementing the 1996 guidelines which we had, I have made any victim suffer more, on my bended knee, I beg forgiveness I am sorry,” he told RTÉ.

One woman said she would be willing to forgive Bishop Magee but she would never forget what had happened to her and she would “take the memory of being abused with me to the grave”.

She believed Bishop Magee had a chance to remedy matters.

“He has a chance to put things right – he should have come out and met us when the report was published but he can still do that when chapter nine is published. He has another chance to prove himself – let him do that and then let him ask us for forgiveness,” she said.

Another woman, who met Bishop Magee three times in 2005 after making a complaint that she had been abused by a priest in the diocese when a teenager in the 1970s, again called on Bishop Magee to meet people not privately but publicly after chapter nine is published. “He’s offering to meet people now – if he’s so horrified and ashamed at what happened on his watch, why didn’t he make this offer five weeks ago when the Cloyne report was published rather than going into hiding? He’s nothing but a coward as far as I’m concerned.

“If he had any concern for us, the victims, he would have done the right thing years ago – instead now we get all this bluff about being horrified.

“Yes, I would meet him but publicly and with cameras present so people can see him when he’s confronted by the victims of abuse.”

Another woman who was also abused by a priest of the diocese was sceptical about Bishop Magee’s expression of remorse, saying she had heard so many apologies from the bishop and other clergy in Cloyne that she questioned their value.

“What does a private meeting mean – is it one to one like in the canonical court or can I bring my solicitor with me? He’d probably give a sermon – you can’t ask a question and get a straight answer from any of them.

“Anyway, whatever he does now can’t undo what was done to us. We can all be sorry after the fact – he can say sorry as much as he wants but it isn’t going to change what happened to me or to the other girls who were abused,” she said.

A man whose daughter was abused by a priest in the diocese said Bishop Magee sounded “terribly sincere” but he very much questioned whether he genuinely had any appreciation of what had happened to the victims and the impact it had had on their lives.

However, the man said he would be willing to meet the bishop to hear what he has to say in a non-confrontational setting and have the opportunity to question him about why he had failed so many victims of clerical child sex abuse while in charge of the Diocese of Cloyne.